Follow-up Post on Toners for Seborrheic Dermatitis, Oily Skin, and Acne: Skin Purging

I wanted to add something to my last post but decided creating a new post made more sense because it rings true not just to the toners I use. So the toners I use (COSRX toner with AHA and BHA in the evenings and Milk Makeup Matcha Toner in the mornings) are specifically for oily skin, enlarged pores, and for skin that needs more than just physical exfoliation (in other words, when physical exfoliation just isn’t doing the trick or the skin needs to be exfoliated too frequently–like everyday or every other day. That was my skin before using the AHA/BHA toner).

Whenever you add an exfoliation step to your routine or a pore refining step, expect to break out for a few weeks. I know this seems counter-intuitive: you’re adding this step so you stop breaking out. But as the skin works clogs out of the skin, flareups will tend to happen. When you first start, your pores are probably clogged, and a natural part of the process will be for the skin to start purging the pores. Just like when you do manual pore extractions, pores are prone to infection during this process. This is what a lot of people refer to as skin purging. It is quite common, especially when you start using a chemical exfoliant-containing product, for 4-8 weeks after starting this step. I know, it is annoying, and often times it can be disappointing when you start using it and think, “This is working so well! My skin feels amazing!” and then a few days later you feel like your complexion has reverted to that of your teenage years! Be patient, though. If after 8 weeks your skin is still severely breaking out, it may be necessary to rethink what you’re using. That being said, depending on how deep your pores are, the length of time the purging process requires can vary. If after 8 weeks, you are still breaking out, but not nearly as much, you know you’ve gotten through the worst of it.

The best way to tell if your skin is purging or if it is a product or step that is bad for your skin is by taking note of where you’re breaking out: if you’re breaking out with this new step in areas you typically get acne (whether it be blackheads, whiteheads, zits, or even cysts), it is definitely your skin purging. If you find you’re breaking out in areas that you don’t otherwise have these problems, it is most likely necessary to rethink your new routine.

Another thing to consider is what your new product contains that may cause skin purging: chemical exfoliants like AHA, BHA, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or lactic acid commonly cause skin purging. It is also common to have skin purging when starting a new product that contains witch hazel, which is a pore refining ingredient and is found in both toners I mentioned earlier.

Here’s a great article on Allure about breakouts vs skin purging. Here is an even better article that goes into a little more detail (and has fewer ads to slow your browser down!).

At the end of the day, remember to be patient when starting a new product that has chemical exfoliants. Give your skin time to detox, and hopefully after 8 weeks, your skin will never have looked better! (At least, this is what I keep telling myself, because two weeks into my new routine, and my face is really in full-purge mode, and it is not pretty…)

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